Water, one of the necessities of survival, but that should be an obvious observation for all living creatures. I live in a rural area in Texas where there are many landowners with livestock and crop that fills the acreages. This small town has grown over the years from having two small gas stations to three gas stations and a dollar store. Some how people make it work to get what they need until other means are available to drive 20 miles to a bigger town. Austin is about an hours drive if you want to deal with traffic and crazy driving. No, we aren’t living like the Beverly Hillbillies before Jed found the crude on his land, but the price to live in rural areas does come with a price. Higher gas costs, higher cost in food, lack of medical doctors, the land taxes climb every year while our jobs stay limited and pay doesn’t rise.
With people who live and want to enjoy the peace and quiet beyond hearing your neighbor’s rooster boasting at 3pm, why do big companies want to take advantage of honest, hard living people and bully their way to get what they want? Is it greed, self-loathing, wrong kind of ambition, bad planning? Well, I’d say it’s all of the above.
But with all this being said, you may wonder, what the heck does this have to do with water? I’m getting there. Rockdale, Texas, which is about 18 miles from Lexington, had an aluminum smelting plant that has been running for decades until 2008 when it started to close it’s doors. Their humongous size transformer walk able diggers, which are pretty amazing to see, trampled its way into Lee County and stripped the land of coal. But along with this massive dig of many people’s property and thousands of acreage came devastating effects. The land was stripped of the natural beauty of oak trees, pecan trees, and pine even mesquite bushes. The massive digging created havoc with the water, especially if you had water wells. It became undrinkable and the stench didn’t have to be near your nose to notice the rotten eggs smell of sulfur and other containments. The digs would also suck down the water supply; some wells reported of having a 25 foot well that dropped down to a 45 foot well because the water became scarce. With all the meetings and concerns from the community, Alcoa still managed to barrel through the land and forced owners to sell their property. My parents were one of its victims. They held out as long as they could and were the one of the last ones in the line of fire from this big corporation. At the time my dad was building his house, by himself. Alcoa had to pay over $30,000 to have the house to be moved about 18 miles to the location my parents had to find quickly to move to.
Now once again another “big wig” has invaded these Counties. Rural landowners have to sell or the land could be taken away as an “eminent domain” for the use of a big company that is servicing San Antonio. The San Antonio Water Supply, Vista Ridge Consortium. Vista Ridge is a Spain Abengoa and apparently they hold permits that allow SAWS to pump from the Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer, which is in Milam County. Blue water is an Austin based company and has a pipeline already pumping water from the same location. As Alcoa has forced the people off the land to complete their damage and Vista Ridge pipeline corporation has recently done the same. If the people didn’t take their offers, the corporation will just take it anyway.
The location in which they are going to pull water from is Burleson County Simsboro Aquifer, so that’s about 143 miles of pipeline reaching back to San Antonio. It’s reported that 50,000 acre-feet of Simsboro groundwater will be exported to San Antonio each year. That estimates about 16,000,000,000 gallons of water each year. The MAG (modeled available groundwater) determined by the Texas Water Development Board shows that the Simsboro Aquifer’s MAG is about 48,000 acre-feet per year. This is not enough leverage for the pipeline to be utilizing the water in this area.
Lee County, Burleson County, Milam County and other surrounding areas are subjected to severe drought. Once this pipeline has been erected and in full use, the water will be drastically depleted. Even though at times this area obtains some good rainfall, it is not enough to get out of the drought situations, especially when our seasons seem to jump from winter straight into summer heat of being 103 degrees. That is not including the heat index either.
By allowing the large amount of water to be exported every year will have devastating effects with the land, people and live stock. Why does San Antonio have to force its way into drought lands, when they can utilize Aquifers that doesn’t fall into drought as often? Raping the land, stealing landowner’s property and rights and disregard of devastation that lies ahead with exporting the water is not the way to fix the water issues in San Antonio. This solution is just a band-aid covering a 6-foot gash.
Big corporations shouldn’t be allowed to have business practices of taking away land and it’s resources. So I guess the workingman or woman wanting to live a peaceful life away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, don’t have any rights in this Country. The “little guy” needs to be represented and respected of ownership, if they don’t want to sell their land or it’s resources, then the “big wigs” need to find another route. The Vista Ridge water pipeline is expected for completion in 2020.